Matthew 23:31 Wherefore you are witnesses unto yourselves,...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Therefore you testify for yourselves that you are the children of those who killed the prophets.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

In the KJV, this seems to be a simple accusation, but in the Greek, with the appropriate pause, it much lighter.

"Wherefore" is from an adverb that marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing. At the beginning of a sentence, it marks a strong conclusion.

"Ye be witness" is from the Greek ver that means "to give testimony" and "to bear witness." It has the sense of being true testimony. It is the verb form of the Greek word for "testimony" and "proof," which is the source of our word "martyr," and its funny spelling.

The humor of this line is in the "yourselves" inserted here. It is in the dative form, which isn't like our use of the relexive form (yourself, myself, etc.) for emphasis but which is usually an indirect object ("testify to yourselves") but also for the benefit of, "for yourselves."

The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause.

The verb "ye are" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

The word translated as "children" primarily means "son." It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Christ also used it metaphorically to describe those that follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

"Of them which killed" is from the Greek verb for "murder," and killing a way the stains the murder with blood. It is in the form of an adjective used as a noun, "the ones who killed."

The Greek word translated as "prophets" means "one who speaks for God", "interpreter" and was the highest level of priesthood in Egypt. Christ uses it to refer not only to divine spokepeople, but their books in the OT. It is from the verb that means "to shine before."

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὥστε "Wherefore" is from hoste, which marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing, "as being", "inasmuch as," expresses the the actual or intended result of the action in the principal clause: "as", "for," implying " on condition that," at the beginning of a sentence, to mark a strong conclusion, "and so", "therefore," and with subj. " in order that."

μαρτυρεῖτε (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "Ye be witness" is from martyreo, which means "to bear witness", "to give evidence", "give a good report", "testify to," and "acknowledge the value of." It is the basis for our word "martyr."

ἑαυτοῖς (adj pl masc dat) "Yourselves" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

ὅτι "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

υἱοί (noun pl masc nom) "The children" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child."

ἐστε (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "Ye are" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

τῶν φονευσάντων (part pl aor act masc gen) "Of them which killed" is from phoneuō, which means "to kill", "to murder", "to be slain [passive], and "to stain with blood."

τοὺς προφήτας. (noun pl masc acc) "The prophets" is from prophetes, which means "one who speaks for a god and interprets his will", "interpreter", "keepers of the oracle", "the highest level of priesthood in Egypt", "interpreter," and "herald." It is a verb that means "to shine forth" It is a form of the verb, prophao. which means "to shine forth," or "to shine before."

The Spoken Version: 

"And so..." he started, as if coming to a conclusion in court. "You are testifying...for your own benefit."

He paused as if they were going to agree.

"That," he continued, "that you are children."

He paused and his opponents protested.

"Of those who murdered the prophets," he finished innocently with a shrug.

The crowd laughed.

Jul 1 2016